Saturday, July 23, 2011

Donewar's Superette & Diner


Here's my article on Donewar's Superette & Diner that ran in the July issue of The West Bank Beacon: 

 Frank Fradella opened Fradella’s Grocery store on the southwest corner of Hancock and Burmaster Streets in 1927. During World War II, he opened a slaughterhouse in the building next to the grocery. 
   In 1948, Frank’s daughter Josephine “Josie” married Charles Donewar, and the Donewars worked in the business with Frank. Charles and Frank slaughtered live cattle on premises, and sold freshly butchered steaks, roasts, and ground meat in the grocery store.
When Burmaster Street was expanded to four lanes in 1959, the Donewars had to relocate the store. They hired local McDonoughville contractor, James “Chick” Bush of J.B. Bush, Inc. to build a new store across the street, on the northeast corner of the intersection. Donewar’s Superette & Diner has been there ever since. 
Charles and Josie’s son, Jody, worked in the new store as a young boy. Charles taught Jody how to cut meat and how to make the homemade sausage from a recipe passed down by Frank. Additionally, Jody stocked the store shelves, racked the deposit soft drink bottles, and cleaned up. 
In 1977, Jody took over the family business full time. In 1980, Jody’s fiancée, Sandy Miller, began working with Jody in the store, and they married in 1981. Donewar’s operated primarily as a grocery store and meat market that served take-out sandwiches and plate lunches until 1992. At that time, Jody and Sandy took the bulk of the groceries out and converted the space to a diner. 
Donewar’s serves breakfast from 8 a.m. – 10 a.m. The “Breakfast Special” is 3 eggs any style with your choice of ham, bacon or sausage, grits and toast ($4.50). Other breakfast items include egg sandwiches – eggs & bacon, eggs & ham, eggs & sausage - on toast, bun or french ranging in price from $2.50 to $4.25. Biscuits are $.75 each or 3 for $1.75. 
Hot plate lunches are served Monday – Friday from 10 a.m. till 1 p.m. Daily lunch specials cost $7.75 and include red beans & rice, fried pork chop or smoked sausage, salad and bread on Mondays; ½ fried chicken or ½ baked chicken, lima beans or french fries, dessert and bread on Tuesdays; spaghetti & meatballs or homemade Italian sausage, vegetable and bread on Wednesdays; white beans or jambalaya, pork chop or smoked sausage or country fried steak, dessert and bread on Thursdays; and on Fridays it’s fried seafood day and you can choose from fried fish or shrimp, french fries or baked macaroni, dessert and bread for between $9.00 - $12.00. 
Donewar’s also offers a selection of sandwiches on slice, bun or french ranging in price from $3.30 to $7.00. Fried fish and shrimp sandwiches are available only on Fridays. Jody told me the crowd pleasers are their roast beef, homemade hot sausage, and their “awesome” muffalettas (half $7.50, whole $15). Some of the offerings remind me of the sandwiches available at corner groceries I went to as a kid, like luncheon meat and livercheese. Who doesn’t get a childhood flashback from that? Other sandwiches on the menu include meatball, hamburger, country fried steak, ham, turkey breast, smoked sausage, and a club sandwich. Sandwiches are served all day long.
The Donewars pride themselves on making as much from scratch as possible, including the sausage, gravies, meatballs, and cooking roasts for roast beef sandwiches. Sandy does almost all of the cooking. On Tuesdays, Sandy’s dad Elmo Miller fries the chicken and on Friday’s, her mom Gwen Miller fries the seafood. Ms. Josie still lives above the store. Jody still makes the link sausage from his grandfather’s recipes. Donewar’s homemade sausage is available for sale along with their hogshead cheese.
In addition to owning the diner, Jody has been a licensed salt water fishing guide since 1998. He told me that as a boy, he fished and hunted with his dad every chance he got, and became a very good angler. In 1998 he decided to become a professional. The web address for Captain Jody’s charter service is

Years ago the West Bank headquarters of LP&L (now Entergy), South Central Bell (now BellSouth/AT&T), and Coca-Cola were within a stone’s throw of Donewar’s, providing a built-in lunch clientele.  Even though the staffing at those offices is either non-existent or not what it was back in the day, workers from AT&T, Entergy, the City of Gretna, the Jefferson Parish Courthouse, the Gretna Police Department, and other local businesses still flock to Donewar’s for a good, home-cooked meal.

 Walking into Donewar’s is like walking back in time – when times were simpler and less hectic. Here, you will be greeted by friendly owners and staff who serve quality food at low prices. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Donewar’s Superette & Diner is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. The address is 938 Hancock Street (at the corner of Burmaster), Gretna. The phone number is 366-3353. Take-out orders are accepted. Donewar’s accepts cash only. Make sure to “Like” Donewar’s on their Facebook page.

 Reprinted with permission of The West Bank Beacon. 
Donewar's Superette on Urbanspoon 

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